Last Hurrahs of Summer: Coconut Rolls (BBB September 2016)

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BBB September 2016 summary: recipe for Coconut Rolls or are they buns??, based on a recipe in “HomeBaking” by Naomi Duguid and Jeffery Alford; substitutions and alterations; malfunctioning scales; a Bread Baking Babes project; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

Bread Baking Babes (BBB) September 2016: Coconut Rolls

Coconut Rolls

I was beginning to wonder if summer would never end!

Finally, early this week, the night temperatures dropped below 20C. And we felt comfortable turning on the oven. But I really got thrown off by the long hot summer. Even though we’ve been watching the happy parade of children walking to school every morning since Labour Day, it didn’t occur to me that the middle of the month was so close.

So. I’m sorry to say that I’m late. In my defense, I baked on 16 September….

This month’s project is based on a recipe in the stunningly beautiful cookbook “Home Baking” by Naomi Duguid and Jeffery Alford. It’s such a wonderful book that it has been translated into other languages, including Dutch. There are bread recipes from all parts of the world.

We have no idea where the Chinese bakery tradition of soft white filled buns comes from, but in Taiwan, in Hong Kong and even here in each of Toronto’s Chinatowns, we can always find a bakery with a dazzling array of them. The first bun shops I ever saw were in Taipei; they’re still my favorites. […] Rick (alias Cinnamon Roll Rick) arrived for a visit. Within a day, he’d found the bun shops and came running to find out which buns were my favorite. I’d never noticed the bun shops and I thought he was crazy. But he was right. And for the next six months we ate a ton of sweet buns.
– Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid, Taipei Coconut Buns, Home Baking, p.252

Apparently, the coconut buns were their absolute favourite flavour and that’s what they include in the cookbook. Well! Clearly, even if Lien hadn’t chosen them for this month’s project for the BBBabes, we had to try them.

Here’s how coconut roll making went:

BBB Coconut Rolls diary:

3 August 2016 15:46
Cover them in chocolate?? Now THERE’S an idea!

Ha!! I saw the authors’ names, J. Alford & N. Duguid, for the cookbook “De kunst van het bakken” and immediately recognized the names. How cool that this is a Dutch version of a recipe by Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid, who used to live in Toronto. I LOVE their books “Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent” and “Flatbreads & Flavors: A Baker’s Atlas”.

I googled to find out that the English title is “HomeBaking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World”. It turns out there are 7 copies at the library and zero holds so I should be able to pick it up tomorrow or Friday. Yay!

11 August 2016 08:12 Ah, how much and how to measure the salt, one of my many pet peeves!! =:^> For 300gm of bread flour, the BBB recipe calls for 3/4 tsp salt. That seems a little low, doesn’t it?

Information Sources:
Salt indirectly contributes to crust coloring. This attribute is a result of the salt’s characteristic of retarding fermentation. Starch in the flour is converted into simple sugars […] Since the salt is slowing the rate of the sugar consumption, more of what is known as residual sugar is available at the time of the bake for crust coloration.
-King Arthur Flour, salt
Typically the amount of salt in a dough is between 1.8 and 2 percent of the amount of flour, by weight. If there is a large proportion of other ingredients, such as seeds, for which salt also enhances flavor, the percentage of salt could be a little higher.
-Susan, Wild Yeast, Worth Its Salt – The Role of Salt in Bread

The library book is still in transit. I’m hoping I’ll get it this week.

29 August 2016 11:53 After being in transit for over a week, the book finally arrived. We’re really enjoying reading it and have several recipes bookmarked. And I haven’t even got to the coconut rolls yet….

HomeBaking photo What fabulous photos!! I particularly like the two page spread that shows someone’s floury hands on just shaped bread.

I jumped ahead to “Taipei Coconut Buns”, just to take a look at how much salt is called for. I think I’m going to use the original 1tsp(6gm) that is in the English version of the recipe. 3/4tsp(4.5gm) is only 1.5% salt.

12 September 2016 22:13 Shriek!! Our digital scale is broken! How on earth did that happen?! I had to resort to using our old {gleeps!} spring scale to make a starter for sandwich bread tomorrow. And to think that we almost threw the spring scale away!

15 September 2016
A recipe not too complicated (at least it doesn’t look it).
-Lien, in message to BBBabes

Not too complicated, eh? Ha! I can make it complicated! :lalala:

Because our scale is broken, I am going to measure everything by volume. That adds to the complexity; I have to find all the measuring cups and spoons!

2 Tbsp sugar [25gm]
160 ml lukewarm water [160gm]
2 tsp dry instant yeast [6gm]
300 g bread flour [2c]
50 ml vegetable oil [46gm]
3/4 tsp salt [4.5gm]
40 g + 2 TBsp dried, unsweetened, grated coconut [1/2c + 9gm]
(or sweetened coconut, reducing the light brown sugar with 2 TBsp)
60 ml boiling water [60gm]
100 g light brown sugar (I might reduce this even if I’d use unsweetened coconut) [1/2c]
2 TBsp corn starch [16gm]
1 TBsp butter [14gm]
-BBB coconut roll recipe

jaggery I’m planning on using jaggery instead of sugar for the filling. It just seems like the right thing to use with coconut! Especially for a recipe coming from Asia.

We love jaggery! It tastes like the best non-chocolate fudge you’ve ever had. When we bought it the other day, the lady at the counter asked us why we didn’t get the larger size. And then, she grinned and said that she can’t stop eating it.

I probably will do the unprecedented and use cups and spoons to measure this. I didn’t quite believe it at first but our digital scale is definitely broken! Wwaaaahhhhhhh. The spring scale is still operational but it’s very difficult to read the numbers. I need a magnifying glass to see them….

16 Sept 08:43 Oh oh!!

Why didn’t someone tell me that today is 16 September?! I thought it was tomorrow! I’m so sorry, Lien. I fear I’ll be late. I’m just about to mix the dough now.

I still have the Home Baking book out of the library (I’ve already renewed it once; I think we may neeeeeed to get a copy of this book!) and am surprised to see that the English version of the recipe calls for 1 tsp salt rather than 3/4 tsp. It also calls for a mixture of pastry and all-purpose flours – 1 cup pastry flour and 1 cup all-purpose. How very different from bread flour! But I wasn’t going to use bread flour anyway. I am going to use a combination of 100% wholewheat, all-purpose and finely ground flaxseed. :stomp:

And I’m also thinking about transgressing further to use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil in the dough.

I can’t remember if Lien purposely lowered the amount of salt, but I’m going to raise it again.

So I asked…

Yes I did, it’s just 300 g of flour, so 3/4 tsp is enough, the bakers here in the Netherlands the amount of salt in bread is 1,8-2,2 % (of the amount of flour). The older recipe books use a lot more, but I use the new norm. (as we seem to consume too much salt)
-Lien, message to me and the rest of the BBBabes

15:15 I just made the filling using jaggery instead of sugar. I also added a small amount of salt. We love the mix of salt and sugar in sweet things!

And shredded unsweetened coconut. Of course I used coconut for the filling. Because I’m an obedient BBBabe. But if Lien hadn’t expressly told us that we had to make these into coconut rolls, I would have been sorely tempted to use something entirely other than coconut. I do love coconut in savoury dishes but I have to confess that I’m not at all wild about coconut in sweet things.

However, T loves coconut in sweets. And so do our neighbours. So, coconut rolls they will be.

18:11 I had been dreaded it but it turns out that shaping was insanely easy. As I was carefully smearing coconut filling into the center of the first set of rolls, at the last minute, I decided to throw in a tiny bit of ground cardamom.

19:50 They’re done! They’re a little bit on the blonde side but they smell wonderful.

Coconut Rolls We sat on the front porch and had coconut rolls and coffee early this morning, marvelling at the soft quiet coolness of the morning.

Alas, we couldn’t detect the cardamom flavour but wondered if we would have missed it if it weren’t there.

Because it was so early, we didn’t like to phone next door, so we packed up 6 rolls, put them into the mailbox next door and emailed that they were there.

What a fun thing to have on a Saturday morning as summer winds to an end.

Thank you, Lien!

Here is the BBB September 2016 Coconut Rolls recipe we were given. And here is what I did to it:

BBB Coconut Rolls
based on a recipe in “Home Baking” by Naomi Duguid and Jeffery Alford

makes 12 rolls



  • 1/4 c + 2 Tbsp unsweetened, shredded dried coconut, divided
  • 60ml boiling water
  • 1/4 c jaggery, chopped finely (the BBB recipe calls for “100 g light brown sugar”)
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt 5
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom, finely ground, optional (the BBB recipe does not call for cardamom)
  1. dough: On the morning of the day you plan to bake the rolls, whisk yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar into the 96F water in a largish bowl. With regards to the water – I know, you’re rolling your eyes and glazing over already – please do not use water from the hot water tap. Instead, heat the water in a kettle or microwave. If you are allergic to using a thermometer, you can check the temperature by putting a few drops of water onto your wrist: if it feels hot, it’s too hot; if it feels cold, it’s too cold; if it feels like a cross between cool, warm and nothing, then it’s fine. Please note that before the yeast is added, the liquid temperature must be BELOW 120F (49C) because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F. Add 1 cup all-purpose flour and stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour is absorbed. Let this sit for about 10 minutes.
  2. After 10 minutes have passed, you’ll probably see a few bubbles in the yeast mixture. Dump the rest of the flours, finely ground flaxseed and salt on top of the yeast mixture. Pour in the coconut oil. Stir with a wooden spoon until the flours are mixed in. The dough might be on the stiff side. Fear not.
  3. kneading in the bowl: Use your hands to turn and fold the dough in the bowl until the dough feels quite smooth. Turn it a few more times just because it feels so nice. Put a plate over the bowl and leave it to sit in the oven with only the light on to rise until it doubles.
  4. make the filling: Put 1/2 cup shredded coconut into a smallish pyrex bowl. Pour boiling water over top and leave to soak for about 15 minutes.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together the jaggery and cornstarch. Set aside until the coconut has rehydrated. Combine the rehydrated coconut with the jaggery and cornstarch. There is no cause for alarm that there are lumps of jaggery.
  6. Melt butter over medium heat in a small pot. Add the coconut mixture and salt and stir with a wooden spoon to melt the jaggery. Keep stirring until the filling thickens (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool. When it’s safe, put the pot into the fridge.
  7. About half an hour before shaping, take the filling out of the fridge. It will probably seem quite stiff. Again, don’t worry. Stirring it with a wooden spoon soon loosens it up. Just before shaping, stir in 2 Tbsp shredded dried coconut.
  8. shaping: When the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured board. Cut it in half. Put one half under a bowl. Using a rolling pin, roll the other half out into a 30x16cm rectangle. Cut it in half lengthwise. Spoon a strip of filling lengthwise down the center of each rectangle. If using, evenly sprinkle cardamom over the filling. Try not to get any filling on the long edges. Fold the sides of the dough over the filling, overlapping the edges somewhat. Pinch the seam together well. Cut this into three equal rolls. Pinch the edges together and place the rolls seam side down on a parchment papered cookie sheet. Cover with a damp tea towel.
  9. Repeat the process with the other half of the dough. Leave the two covered trays to rise for 35-45 minutes. Lien wrote, “They are ready when a light indentation, you make with a finger, stays visible.”
  10. baking: Put the rolls onto the top shelf (to prevent burning on the bottom) of a preheated 400F oven. Immediately turn the oven down to 350F and bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown.
  11. cooling: Allow the rolls to cool completely before serving. They’re still baking inside! N.B. Of course you may want to serve warm rolls. Reheat them after they have cooled completely.

    To reheat any UNsliced bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes.


1.) sugar The BBB recipe calls for 2 Tbsp sugar in the dough. I made an executive decision to halve it.

2.) Yeast The BBB recipe calls for “2 tsp dry instant yeast”. It seemed like a lot, so I reduced it. Because I am a knowitall. :stomp:

3.) flour The BBB recipe calls for “300g bread flour”. But Duguid’s recipe in the book calls for half cake flour and half all-purpose flour. Being perverse, I decided to use my own mixture of ground flaxseed and all-purpose & whole wheat flours

4.) Coconut Oil The BBB recipe calls for “50 ml vegetable oil”. But Lien instructed us to ensure that we made coconut rolls. So I decided to use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil.

5.) Salt The BBB recipe calls for “3/4 tsp salt” in the dough and zero salt in the filling. Both amounts seemed on the low side to me. Interestingly, Duguid’s recipe in the book calls for 1 teaspoon salt in the dough. I decided to go with that. We really like salt and sweet together, so I decided to add a little salt to the filling. And because our scale is broken, I was forced to use volume measures. It was very hard…. (For more information about measuring salt, please see Salt is salt, right?.)

5.) Flaxseed The BBB recipe calls for zero flaxseed. But I just couldn’t help myself. I substituted some of the unbleached all-purpose with ground flax seeds.


Coconut Roll (BBB)

Bread Baking Babes BBB September 2016

As mentioned already, Lien is our intrepid host for September 2016’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:

A recipe not too complicated (at least it doesn’t look it). I think it’s just a fun roll, coconut gives me a summer feeling (maybe we could cover them with chocolate and we’d have a Bounty roll)… then after I’d typed the recipe… I realized it’s for September… but then again, who cares. Babes normally do whatever they want with a recipe, but I would like you to keep it a Coconut roll at least.

We know you’ll want to keep that summer feeling and make coconut rolls too! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make coconut rolls in the next couple of weeks and post about them (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 September 2016. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to email the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ September 2016 bread.

As Katie has so fittingly said in the past:

As always, we have some very busy Babes at the moment….. But just so you know: We’re all still BABES! (You can tell by the panties….)


We just got an email from our neighbours, simply saying, “Delicious!” :) :)

Library Book
I’ve renewed this twice now. One more time
and by my rules, I’ll have to purchase my own copy!


coconut rolls edit 22 September 2016: After reading in “HomeBaking” that coconut buns were available all over Toronto’s ChinaTown, we decided to try one.
This giant fluffy roll cost $0.80. The commercial filling was a little dryer in texture than the BBB version and the bun was sweeter and a bit empty tasting (but this is just hearsay – I’m reporting what T said after he tasted it; I refused to try it because it looks like exactly the kind of bread I loathe.)
But there was definitely an egg or two used in the dough as well as an egg wash on the outside.

We’re beginning to think strongly that Duguid and Alford forgot to include an egg (or two) in the ingredients list for their coconut rolls recipe.


7 responses to “Last Hurrahs of Summer: Coconut Rolls (BBB September 2016)

  1. Elle Lachman

    Think coconut cake instead of suntan oil. Love all teh tweaking you did Elizabeth…jaggery, less sugar, added flax seed, tweakin the other flour and amount of salt, yeast…why the coconut might be the only thing left unchanged. They look delicious and you have lucky neighbors! Happy fall.

  2. Kelly

    Ha! Thank you, now I have a copy on hold at our library, first in line. It’s not at the close one so I’ll have to wait a few days, but that’s fine. I love cardamom, so I love that idea. And the jaggery! Does that taste similar to the cakes of palm sugar you can get? I love those some much for the creamy texture and because they smell like our honeymoon. :) And yeah, that little picture does cover the first two lines of the comment. Huh. I just entered down to see what I was writing and then deleted the space when I was done. ;)

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      I’m guessing that the cakes of palm sugar you get are indeed jaggery. It’s also called “gur” in Indiatown. I love the flavour of jaggery too!

      Oh oh… sorry about that! Thanks for spelling it out. I’ll move the picture up.

  3. Lien

    Love those sugarcones. The addition of cardamom sounds reall good.
    I guess the weight of the salt is of course dependent on fine/ coarse (but who am I telling that :) ) Glad you liked them

  4. Ckay

    Hello dear Elizabeth, what a fantastic description and wonderful buns.
    My son’ going to love these ones.
    It’ s funny because last week a mixed up a “self made recipe”(the one where you toss everything in it and hope it turns out right) very coconutty and I have used coconut oil, coconut water, shredded coconut and coconut sugar… the buns turned out great….but they weren’t stuffed.
    Looking forward to trying your recipe.
    I am a “bread-salt-addicted” and I always go by 1.8%- 2% salt, doesn’t matter what the bread recipes say…and yes, usually the yeast is unfortunately overrated…probably they do not like the “fascination of waiting”, lol.
    Have a lovely day ?


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